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Hyperreligiosity is a psychiatric disturbance in which a person experiences intense religious beliefs or experiences that interfere with normal functioning. Hyperreligiosity generally includes abnormal beliefs and a focus on religious or atheistic content," which interferes with work and social functioning. Hyperreligiosity may occur in a variety of disorders including epilepsy, psychotic disorders and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Hyperrelgiosity is a symptom of Geschwind syndrome, which is associated with temporal lobe epilepsy.
Hyperreligiosity is characterized by an increased tendency to report spiritual, religious or mystical experiences, religious delusions, rigid legalistic thoughts, and extravagant expression of religiosity. Furthermore, "in someone from a strongly religious background hyperreligiosity might appear as deeply felt atheism." Hyperreligiosity may also include religious hallucinations.
Hyperreligiosity may be associated with epilepsy - in particular temporal lobe epilepsy involving complex partial seizures - mania, frontotemporal lobar degeneration, and psychotic disorder. In persons with epilepsy episodic hyperreligosity may occur ictally or postictally, but is usually a chronic personality feature that occurs interictally. Hyperrelgiosity was associated in one small study with decreased right hippocampal volume. The medial prefrontal cortex may play a role in controlling religiousness, and dysfunction may lead to hyperreligiosity. Increased activity in the left temporal regions of hyperreligiosity in psychotic disorders.
Epilepsy related cases may respond to antiepileptics.
Studies that claim to show no difference in emotional makeup between temporal lobe and other epileptic patients (Guerrant et. al., 1962; Stevens, 1966) have been reinterpreted (Blumer, 1975) to indicate that there is, in fact, a difference: those with temporal lobe epilepsy are more likely to have more serious forms of emotional disturbance. This "typical personality" of temporal lobe epileptic patient has been described in roughly similar terms over many years (Blumer & Benson, 1975; Geschwind, 1975, 1977; Blumer, 1999; Devinsky & Schachter, 2009). These patients are said to have a deepening of emotions; they ascribe great significance to commonplace events. This can be manifested as a tendency to take a cosmic view; hyperreligiosity (or intensely professed atheism) is said to be common.